Report: Dag & Red 1 Exeter City 1
Exeter City and Dagenham & Redbridge played out a 1-1 draw at Victoria Road, in a tempestuous game in the capital.
The breakthrough came midway into the first half for the Daggers, as Josh Scott profited from a breakdown in communication amongst the City rearguard and put the ball into an empty net.
Dagenham spurned opportunities to put daylight between the teams in the first half, and so Sam Parkin’s superb header in a much-improved second period brought the scores level to send the Grecians back to Devon with a point.
In the absence of Jamie Reid and John O’Flynn, youngster Matt Jay was called into the matchday side once again and took a seat on the bench. Matt Grimes made his first start on opposition soil for the first team, while David Wheeler took a place amongst the subs.
Pat Baldwin was drafted into the right-back berth once again, with Scot Bennett occupying a centre-half role. For the hosts, Medy Elito – who netted for the Daggers last time the Grecians were visitors – was named amongst the subs.
With the clouds threatening rain all morning, the game kicked off in beautiful sunshine and at a high tempo. Zavon Hines, the former Bradford man, was providing the early threat on the left wing and Scot Bennett was on hand on successive occasions to make excellent interceptions.
The Grecians were making an assured and progressive start to the game and were making good headway in the early stages – and a swift break saw Alan Gow lay in Davies, who was cruelly denied by the post when his effort looked destined for the top corner.
Hines was still on the offensive and was threatening with his right foot as he came off the left wing and it needed a firm block by Grimes and others in the vicinity to keep parity.
The breakthrough came in disastrous fashion on the 20-minute mark. For all their assuredness in the opening exchanges, the Grecians conceded a soft goal to the benefit of Daggers striker Scott. Neither Artur Krysiak nor Bennett took full control of the situation and Scott was on hand to mop up a bobbling ball, hook it over his shoulder, and into the unguarded net from 30 yards.
Daggers were offering the major threat after going a goal up and were piling on the pressure. Grimes was forced into shooting from distance, and Chris Lewington had no trouble in collecting after his effort was deflected.
The City players underwent something of a positional reshuffle, as Liam Sercombe stepped a few yards closer to the front two.
However it was still Dagenham on the front-foot and some slick play down their left saw Hines pull a ball back which just evaded everyone, with Rhys Murphy in particular looking disappointed not to have capitalised on the opportunity.
Murphy was the next player to offer the threat down the same flank and his low cross from the byline was touched towards goal Scott, but Bennett made a goal-saving challenge to take the full impact of the ball and allow Krysiak to collect. The centre-half stayed down injured for a minute or so, but was fine to continue after a bit of nursing from Andy Proctor.
And it needed another great intervention by Bennett to deny Murphy as the striker escaped the offside track and looked like he had a clean route to goal. As the former Arsenal striker tried to step inside, Bennett got a crucial boot on the ball to force a corner.
At the other end, City’s half was summed up when a good opportunity was spurned by a sliced Grimes shot, which came off the back of some neat passing play. Gow crossed for Sercombe whose initial shot was crowed out, and Grimes’ right-footed follow up was high and wide.
Half-time: Dagenham & Redbridge 1 Exeter City 0
Paul Tisdale made a couple of changes in the interval to approach the second half in a different fashion. Grimes and Davies were withdrawn with Wheeler and Jimmy Keohane brought on to replace them.
Hines began the second period in much the same way as he started the first. Coming in off the left, he drew a near-post save from Krysiak within a minute of the restart.
But the changes seemed to be making City tick a bit better and players were supporting the attack. Gow won the ball in his own half and instigated a swift break. He fed Sercombe who played in Keohane inside the left-hand channel, but the Irishman’s shot was fielded comfortably.
Keohane’s addition looked to be making an impact, as he was buzzing around the strikers and looking to run at the defence. Some pressure from the substitute saw him win a ball deep into the Daggers’ final third, and it needed a block from Billy Bingham to deny him a goal on the volley from wide left.
And despite City looking a lot brighter after the break, it needed another fine Krysiak save to deny Murphy a second Daggers goal. Hines delivered yet another low ball from the dead-ball line which wrong-footed the defence, but the striker couldn’t profit.
Finally, with ten minutes of normal time to play, the Grecians grabbed a goal that their second-half performance deserved. Some composed passing up the wing allowed Wheeler to tee up Matt Oakley to cross, and a superb lunging header by Parkin diverted the ball beyond Lewington at his near post to send the travelling contingent into raptures.
Both sides had chances to win the fixture in the final exchanges, and probably none better for Exeter than Keohane. The midfielder received the ball into feet 20 yards from goal and hit a left-footed effort on the spin, but it cleared the bar.
And Bennett was alert, as he had been all afternoon, when Hines broke swiftly on the right wing in stoppage time. The winger tried to get a cross in from the byline with colleagues lurking in the area but the City man denied him the chance, and keeping the scores level when the referee blew up.
Full-time: Dagenham & Redbridge 1 Exeter City 1
Dagenham & Redbridge:Lewington; Hoyte, Doe, Saah, Connors; Ogogo, Howell, Bingham; Murphy (Woodall 74), Scott (Elito 79), Hines.
Subs (not used): Seabright, Wilkinson, Ilesanmi, Obafemi, Saunders.
Goal: Scott (20).
Exeter City: Krysiak; Baldwin, Coles, Bennett, Woodman; Sercombe, Grimes (Wheeler 46), Oakley, Davies (Keohane 46); Gow, Parkin.
Subs (not used): Pym, Doherty, Moore-Taylor, Dawson, Jay.
Attendance: 2,003 (440 away).
Referee: D. Sneldrake